Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/140

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Italians to contribute to the support of their compatriots in Calabria and Sicily. As a result of this burden, a strong party in the government has long been advocating a separation of the two sections, which would leave Calabria and Sicily to care for themselves.

To these discouraging general conditions must be added a series of special calamities which have befallen southern Italy since the summer of 1905. In September of that year, without warning of any kind, came the blow of the great Calabrian earthquake, the shocks of which destroyed property to the value of nearly $10,000,000, besides leaving a long list of killed and wounded. Both government aid and large private subscriptions from the northern provinces were necessary in order to succor the victims and in part to rebuild the mined villages.

In the following spring heavy rains largely ruined the crops in Sicily, and in April occurred the great eruption of Vesuvius which spread a mantle of ash on the flanks of the mountain, so as to bury the vineyards and remove for some years the sources of livelihood. Many thousand people who dwell upon the flanks of the volcano were thus thrown upon the government for support and the more favored Italians in the northern provinces were obliged to make further sacrifices for their relief.

What, we ask, is Italy to do in the face of the new disaster, following as it does so swiftly upon the heels of the others, and dwarfing them by its proportions. It avails nothing now to argue that much of the loss of life and property might easily have been avoided, had buildings suited to such a seismic district been constructed. This fact has again and again been pointed out by properly qualified persons after each fresh disaster, but the force of inherited tradition is not so easily turned aside, and it was only after the earthquake of 1905 that the beginning of better things was seen. Then in place of the loose stone and tile houses—veritable man deadfalls—which have again and again been raised over their own ruins, strong wooden barracks were constructed under government supervision. It is, however, only in such towns as were largely destroyed in 1905 that such reform measures have been adopted.

Leaving now the humanitarian side of this calamity we may turn to its scientific aspects. Enough is already known to state that the site of the heaviest movement lay in and about that small arm of the Mediterranean which separates Sicily from the mainland of Italy—a section of crust, therefore, which immediately adjoins upon the west that which was heavily shaken in the fall of 1905. This fact, no doubt, helps to explain the otherwise exceptional character, since a destructive earthquake is apt to be followed by a rather long period of comparative quiet, so soon as the so-called aftershocks have faded away. The great